September 18, 2012 by David K. Sutton
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Sends Voter ID Law Back To Lower Court
I can’t help but think the Pennsylvania Supreme Court wanted to take the easy road on this ruling when they decided to send the Voter ID case back to a lower court for reconsideration. That means the law is still in effect but is pending yet another court review. The lower court has until October 2nd to issue a ruling.
The [lower court] judge was instructed “to consider whether the procedures being used for deployment” of ID cards comports with the law as written — which the court itself made clear was not the case. “The Department of State has realized, and the Commonwealth parties have candidly conceded, that the Law is not being implemented according to its terms,” the justices wrote.
The justices, for instance, noted in their decision that while the law called for voters to be granted state-issued ID simply upon an affirmation, “as implementation of the Law has proceeded, PennDOT — apparently for good reason — has refused to allow such liberal access.”
If those procedures are not being followed, or if the judge was “not still convinced…that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election” then he would be “obliged to enter a preliminary injunction,” the higher court wrote. – Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Sent Back By State Supreme Court To Lower Court For Reconsideration
In his dissent (believing the PA Supreme Court should have issued an injunction), Justice Seamus P. McCaffery wrote:
I was elected by the people of our Commonwealth, by Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others, as was every single Justice on this esteemed Court. I cannot now be a party to the potential disenfranchisement of even one otherwise qualified elector, including potentially many elderly and possibly disabled veterans who fought for the rights of every American to exercise their fundamental American right to vote. While I have no argument with the requirement that all Pennsylvania voters, at some reasonable point in the future, will have to present photo identification before they may cast their ballots, it is clear to me that the reason for the urgency of implementing Act 18 prior to the November 2012 election is purely political. That has been made abundantly clear by the House Majority Leader. I cannot in good conscience participate in a decision that so clearly has the effect of allowing politics to trump the solemn oath that I swore to uphold our Constitution. That Constitution has made the right to vote a right verging on the sacred, and that right should never be trampled by partisan politics.
McCaffery’s dissenting opinion lines up with my view on this issue. I’m not against a voter ID if it can be administered in such a way that doesn’t result in disenfranchising segments of the population. This means the ID cannot cost money, including travel required to obtain the ID. People should not be required to spend money to exercise their right to vote.